It was a busy sports weekend between the start of the NFL season, college football, and the end of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
On Saturday, 19-year-old American Coco Gauff won her first career Grand Slam in a three-set nailbiter against newly minted world number one Aryna Sabalenka. On Sunday, Megyn, Doug, and the kids made their way to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City to see Novak Djokovic defeat Daniil Medvedev for his twenty-fourth Grand Slam title, tying Margaret Court for the most all-time.
While Megyn and her family enjoyed the top-notch tennis, there were some elements of the day that left her scratching her head. “Tennis is definitely woke – it is woke,” she said. “It was all about Billie Jean King and equal pay… It was a little in your face with the Moderna messaging… I’m just trying to watch a tennis match.”
On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Marcellus Wiley, host of Never Shut Up, to discuss what she experienced at the U.S. Open and why sports feel the need to get into the cultural fray.
No National Anthem
The singing of the National Anthem is customary at most major sporting events, but not at the U.S. Open apparently. That would be noteworthy on any occasion but especially around September 11 in New York. “The day before 9/11, they thought, ‘Maybe we’ll skip the National Anthem,” Megyn noted.
Instead, singer Will Liverman performed a medley of “America the Beautiful” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Megyn said the choice by the USTA didn’t square. “So the ‘Black National Anthem’ could play as we’re surrounded everywhere by reminders of 50 years of… equal prize money for men and women… but nothing about America because I guess we’re not allowed to celebrate what we stand for by playing the National Anthem,” she said. “They never played [the National Anthem] the night before 9/11 in New York – that would have been unfathomable just 10 years ago.”
Megyn admitted that you don’t have to ‘woke’ to be “pro-Moderna,” but she said the sponsorship was unavoidable. “A lot of people, including yours truly, have had bad experiences with the vaccines,” she said. “And I don’t need to look at it all over the place.”
It’s a particularly interesting corporate partnership for the U.S. Open when you consider that it was just one year ago Djokovic wasn’t allowed to compete in the tournament (or the Australian Open) because of his vaccine status. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is also not vaccinated, even joked about the irony when he tagged a picture of the event #novaxdjokovic.
Moderna sponsored the so-called “Shot of the Day” that aired on ESPN, which, on Sunday, was Djokovic’s match point. “[Djokovic] was totally vilified… for absolutely no purpose whatsoever,” Megyn noted. “He was written up as some sort of a demon by many in the press who thought how gross it was that this elite athlete, who didn’t know what consequences there might be to the vaccine, refused to get it.”
Wiley said the conversation around vaccine choice wasn’t a choice at all. “We asked athletes, we asked people to make a decision but vilified them for the decision they made,” he said. “So, it’s really not even an option… When you choose something that they don’t support, then they come after you.”
But that wasn’t all Megyn noticed about the tournament. Tennis players are generally introduced and identified by the country they play for. Djokovic is Serbian, and the Serbian flag appeared next to his name in the draw and box scores throughout the U.S. Open. Medvedev, however, appeared to be playing without a home.
Russian and Belarusian athletes – including fellow finalist Sabalenka on the women’s side – have been barred from using their national flags during the tournament due to the conflict in Ukraine. “You just see a gray triangle next to the Russian players – I’m sorry, it’s ridiculous,” Megyn noted. “Medvedev did not cause the invasion of Ukraine… Why are we trying to pretend the Russian people themselves, including this tennis player, are to blame and that the blanking out of this flag means anything at all?”
The ‘Woke’ Agenda
Wiley said it’s a shame to see tennis “fall victim” to these cultural pressures, but he believes it’s ultimately about dollars and cents and control. “The whole representation conversation and what we call ‘woke’ right now is really an attempt to keep people controlled, to keep the status quo, to let the haves and have nots continue to widen and divide, which allows those in power to even have more power,” he said.
There is no room for dissent. “For anyone who gets into these conversations and doesn’t think with that mindset perspective, usually you’ll get sabotaged and usually you’ll get suckered into it,” he concluded. “This is a sad state of affairs for those who seek the truth.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Wiley by tuning in to episode 624 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.